Belfast Telegraph

Pinewood enjoys 'resurgent' 2009

The Clash of the Titans 3D blockbuster - due for release this weekend - was one of a number of movies filmed at Pinewood and Shepperton studios during a resurgent 2009 for the cinema industry, the owner of the sites said yesterday.

Pinewood Shepperton said the "appeal of film in uncertain economic times has not diminished" after cinema admissions last year hit their highest level since 2002.

The Buckinghamshire and Surrey based studios were also used last year to film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - the first part of the final in the series - and Ridley Scott's new Robin Hood adventure, due out this summer.

But it said film revenues fell 6% in the year to £22.7m, reflecting the impact of a damaging battle between US studios and the Screen Actors Guild, which left projects in a logjam until its resolution in June.

The television advertising slump also hit TV revenues, 11% lower at £11.3m, with the wider group's underlying pre-tax profits slipping 6% to £11.3m in 2009.

This year has got off to a good start, however, as the studio group hosted major new television game shows Ant & Dec's Push the Button and The Whole 19 Yards featuring Vernon Kay. The firm, which also owns Teddington Studios, said the new game shows attracted capacity audiences of around 700 for Push the Button and 400 for The Whole 19 Yards.

A number of movies are due to be filmed at the group's facilities this year, although Pinewood cannot reveal which productions at this stage.

It said the UK's advantageous tax breaks for the film industry were continuing to help put the UK on the movie map, while the weak pound was also attracting US interest.

Pinewood's group-wide facilities include 32 film stages and five television studios.

The group also has a burgeoning post-production division, which has seen its reputation grow as a result of award-winning work on Slumdog Millionaire.

It said this helped revenues from film and TV digital content services surge from £5.3m in 2008 to £6.4m last year.

Pinewood's other interests include a "media park" that houses more than 300 businesses providing services to the film and television industry.

The group is also working on expansion plans to create a Hollywood-style development for creative industries.

The first planning application was refused last October, but Pinewood said it remains committed to seeing Project Pinewood succeed - an initiative it believes is viable despite the potential for a lengthy battle over planning permission.